Waxman Candles originated from a $5 hobby kit ordered by owner Bob Werts while a student at Dodge City Community College in 1969. After his move to Lawrence in 1970 and locating at 7 W 14th Street, Bob received an order from a cosmetics company for 120,000 1½" ball candles. The project took six months and 750 rubber molds made using paper cups, ping pong balls and golf tees. Bob made no monetary profit but he did gain the knowledge that he could make A LOT of candles. Later, an order for 20,000 filled canisters from the same cosmetics company took only 20 days and resulted in sufficient profit to relocate and expand the business to 1405 Massachusetts Street. From 1975 through 1979 Bob created and operated a wholesale division. He traveled to all of the major US markets taking orders from gift, souvenir and florist shops then returned to Lawrence to make and deliver the orders with the help of the equivalent of 10 full time employees. In 1980 the oil embargo forced paraffin costs to increase to the point the wholesale division was no longer profitable and was eliminated. At this point Bob's focus became the Lawrence retail location, marriage and raising a family. Bob's desire to own his business's building led him to 609 Massachusetts Street where Waxman once again expanded its retail showroom in 1993.
In 1996 Bob was approached by Steven Traxler, a former KU student body president, with a proposal for a candle store in Chicago. Steve's enthusiasm and promotional skills combined with Bob's knowledge of candle making resulted in a partnership and Waxman Candles Chicago LLC was born. All three of Bob's children worked at the Lawrence store part time during high school and throughout college. His wife, Deb, joined Waxman Lawrence in 2014 after retiring from her 39 year career in a different vocation. In Dec 2009 his daughter, Mel, became involved with more aspects of the business from candle making to package design. In Dec 2013 his middle son, Ryder, became more involved as a candle maker and is now our candle class instructor. From August 2013 to the end of April 2023 his youngest son, Mitch, worked as a candle maker and manager at the Chicago location. After 27 years at 3044 N Lincoln Ave the decision was made to close the Chicago location. Mitch is back in Lawrence where he joins the family in carrying on the Waxman tradition at 609 Massachusetts St.
Since 2016 Waxman Candles has worked to build a line of press molded and hand thrown pieces that are plaster molded to produce slipcast pieces. Waxman Ceramics are handmade on site at our Lawrence location by the Waxman himself with the knowledge and support of two KU ceramics graduate students. Our entire ceramics line is food, dishwasher & microwave safe. Ceramic materials are sourced locally from Bracker's Good Earth Clays.
After 53 years, with the valuable support of numerous past and present staff, this family business continues to produce superb quality 100% handmade candles. After you experience the performance of a Waxman Candle you will agree that most other candles... just can't hold a flame.